What’s must-see at this year’s Celtic Connections? Jim Gilchrist chooses his highlights
OPENING CONCERT WITH NICOLA BENEDETTI & FRIENDS 16 JANUARY | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
Celtic Connections goes classical, at least so far as the presence of the Scottish virtuoso violinist is concerned. She’s joined in a new work by maestros from the traditional camp – fiddler Aly Bain, accordionist Phil Cunningham and Gaelic song ambassador Julie Fowlis.
FAR, FAR FROM YPRES 17 JANUARY | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
This year’s First World War centenary sees a reprise of this sell-out show from the 2012 Celtic Connections, based on a compilation of First World War songs by the Greentrax label. Singers include Barbara Dickson, Dick Gaughan and Ian McCalman.
CAPERCAILLIE: 30TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT 18 JANUARY, | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
When a bunch of youngsters from around Oban started gigging 30 years ago, they had no idea where it would take them, planting Gaelic music on the global music stage and propelling a Gaelic song into the top 40. Having just released a fine anniversary album, At the Heart of It All, they celebrate with guests.
MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER AND THE BBC SCOTTISH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 24 JANUARY | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
The multiple Grammy winning American singer-songwriter presents her latest album, Songs from the Movie, which sets material from her 26-year back catalogue to orchestral settings by arranger Vince Mendoza, who will conduct the BBC SSO. Support comes from Australian singer-songwriter and banjo-picker Jordie Lane.
THE CAULD WIND BLAWS BIG, PLUS UNDIVIDED 26 JANUARY, | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
The inspired pairing of Shetland fiddler Chris Stout and Findlay MacDonald on bellows blown (“cauld wind”) Border pipes is fortified by harpist Catriona McKay, singers Siobhan Miller and Darren MacLean and the Scottish Power Pipe Band. Undivided is a new commission combining brass player Neil Yates, flautist and uilleann piper Michael McGoldrick and a 21-piece folk-jazz orchestra.
MOGWAI AND RM HUBBERT, 28 JANUARY | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
The internationally popular Glasgow post-rockers, now approaching their 20th anniversary, make their Celtic Connections debut, anticipating the release of their new studio album, Rave Tapes. They’re supported by another well known Glasgow figure, guitarist RM Hubbert, who was a surprise Scottish Album of the Year winner.
MUSIC OF AR RAHMAN WITH THE BBC SCOTTISH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, 30 JANUARY | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
The BBC SSO once again takes the Celtic Connections stage, this time to play music by “the John Williams of Bollywood”, the singer-songwriter and composer best known for his Slumdog Millionaire score. Rahman makes his Scottish debut in the company of musicians from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and his own conservatoire in Chennai.
TRANSATLANTIC SESSIONS, 31 JANUARY & 2 FEBRUARY | GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
The Transatlantic Sessions have become an institution in their own right, regularly selling out – hence their two-night status. Hosted as ever by musical directors fiddler Aly Bain and dobro master Jerry Douglas, this year’s American guests include singer-songwriters Shawn Colvin and Sarah Jarosz, regular guests Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien, with Scottish singers Kris Drever and Julie Fowlis.
DEL AMITRI 24 JANUARY | SSE HYDRO
Glasgow’s newest and biggest venue hosts one of the city’s best-known alt-rock bands, Del Amitri. In their first UK show for 11 years, Justin Currie and company promise a retrospective romp through a back catalogue which includes 15 Top 40 singles and four Top Ten albums. Support comes from the Big Dish and The O’s.
CELTIC CONNECTIONS INTERNATIONAL BURNS CONCERT 25 JANUARY | SSE HYDRO
Burns’s internationalist credentials are well aired in this global Burns nicht, with guests including South Africa’s Mahotella Queens, ex-Split Enz and Crowded House New Zealander Tim Finn, Greek-Cypriot singer Alkinoos Ioannidis and India’s Raghu Dixit.
ELEPHANT REVIVAL AND SALT HOUSE 24 JANUARY | OLD FRUITMARKET
Part of a considerable American presence at this year’s Connections, the Colorado-based Elephant Revival boast a contemporary take on folk, bluegrass jazz and acoustic rock, and have been gleaning much critical acclaim. They’re paired here with the fine new Scots vocal-instrumental quartet, Salthouse.
THE GLOAMING WITH PATSY REID 22 JANUARY | CITY HALLS
An impressive combination of Irish vocal and instrumental might – fiddlers Martin Hayes and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionárd, guitarist Dennis Cahill and New York pianist Thomas Bartlett – blend tradition and modernity. They’re supported by Perthshire fiddler Patsy Reid, who launches a new album.
GWILYM SIMCOCK & TRISH CLOWES WITH THE BBC SCOTTISH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA | 27 JANUARY, CITY HALLS
Award-winning chamber jazz pianist Simcock and saxophonist Trish Clowes – a Radio 3 New Generation artist – join the BBC SSO for a programme combining their own compositions with works by Bernstein, Gershwin and Milhaud.
KM HINDUSTANI ENSEMBLE AND THE LEWIS PSALM SINGERS, 1 FEBRUARY | KELVINGROVE ART GALLERY AND MUSEUM
Eclecticism goes into overdrive with this unlikely sounding programme combining the KM Hindustani Ensemble, established by the aforementioned AR Rahman to revive ancient Hindustani choral singing, and the Lewis Psalm Singers, directed by precentor Calum Martin, in that unique swell of voices that is Gaelic psalmody.
YVES LAMBERT TRIO AND DAMIAN HELLIWELL’S METTA, 18 JANUARY | THE ARCHES
A cornerstone of Québécois music, accordionist and singer Lambert became famous with the unstoppable La Bottine Souriante, and returns to Glasgow in the company of multi-instrumentalists Olivier Rondeau and Tommy Gauthier.